Irresponsible admissions policy at Korea University

Harold Schiffman hfsclpp at
Tue Feb 3 18:30:19 UTC 2009

Irresponsible admissions policy at Korea University

It has become difficult for Korea University to avoid being held
suspect for using a system of ranking high schools in one of its
rounds of ¡°general selection¡± (ilban jeonhyeong) admissions for the
2008 academic year. According to documentation researched and now
released by the office of Democratic Labor Party member of the
National Assembly Kwon Young-ghil, a student who scored at the 8th
level in their high school performance at Incheon Foreign Language
High School passed the first round of Korea University¡¯s general
selection process, after the university said it would choose students
based on their performance in high school, using grades and other
determiners for 90 percent of what gets considered, and allowing
¡°comparative factors¡± (bigyogwa yeongyeok) such as volunteering to
account for 10 percent.

At Daewon Foreign Language High School, which has a total of 443
students, some 212 applied for admission to the university and 190
passed the first round of the general selection procedure, while 189
out of the 320 students who applied for admission to the university
from the 429-student Daeil Foreign Language High School passed. So a
student from a regular high school could perform in the top two levels
and still fail to win a place at the university, while another student
at a foreign language high school could be in the 5th or 6th level, or
even the 7th or 8th level, and still get in.

University officials protest the accusations, saying they were fair,
but no one is going to believe that at face value. Teachers and
parents have demanded an explanation from Korea University since it
announced the results of that round of selection last October, and the
Korean Council for University Education, which since the start of the
Lee administration has been in charge of university admissions,
performed an inquiry into the matter.

Korea University was forgetting its proper role as an educational
institution to announce that it was choosing people according to their
high school performance while in fact doing what was for all practical
purposes a ¡°special selection¡± (teukbyeol jeonhyeong) of students
from special purpose high schools (teuk mok go). It abandoned that
most basic element of education: trust. You have to worry what
students will learn at a university that, desiring some shallow
benefits, deceived Korean society so it could choose students with
slightly better test scores.

Such is the situation and yet the KCUE is acting even more pathetic
for doing nothing but giving unpersuasive excuses, like saying that it
has no real means to take action against Korea University, despite the
situation. It goes even farther and argues against the ¡°three nos¡±
in education policy: no giving donations in exchange for admissions,
no additional entrance exams and no ranking high schools by academic
performance. At the end of last year, KCUE¡¯s general secretary
actually said that society is likely to reach the consensus that
¡°there would be no social confusion if universities were left to
determine for themselves whether to abolish the prohibition on ranking
high schools and allowing universities to give their own
individually-tailored entrance exams.¡±

There is no such consensus. Ranking high schools is having students
judged by the performance of those who graduated ahead of them. It is
unfair and not right to say you are going to discriminate against
students based on the schools they attend, this without doing anything
to alleviate the disparity in the quality of schools in different
regions. KCUE, therefore, needs to take firm action against Korea
University. Otherwise, it needs to admit that it lacks the ability to
officiate university entrance procedures independently of the
government and wash its hands of everything to do with university
admissions. It is irresponsible to just go on demanding autonomy
without carrying out its responsibilities to the fullest.

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